Disclaimer :: I do understand that there is controversy around this class of drugs being prescribed off-label, for weight loss. The New Orleans Mom is not promoting the use of any medication for any use. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in hearing more about this option from a medical professional. I did not take this decision lightly and certainly do not minimize that many patients require this medicine for diabetes. Medical decisions are highly personal, and this post is meant to be informational about a topic that many people are interested in. This is based on my own experience and decision.
My Experience (so far) with Injectable Weight Loss Drugs
My story is not a unique one. I’ve struggled with my weight all of my life, ever since my siblings pointed out that I was fat and my mother started taking me to diet doctors while still in elementary school. (Do I blame them? Frankly, yeah, a little. I was definitely not fat. And in the 80s, being fat was considered an insult. I like to think we’ve evolved a bit as a culture in that regard, but that’s a whole other post.)
So yes. I’ve done all the diets. Some successful, some not. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Dukan, low carb, low fat, etc. In my twenties, I was on phentermine for a while, which worked like a charm for weight loss and energy levels. Not so much for sleeping or sanity or heart health.
My weight has fluctuated dramatically through adulthood.
From the highest to the lowest was a 75-pound range (and that doesn’t count my pregnancy). I was kind of in the middle of the range when the pandemic struck, and all of the puzzle-solving, bread-baking, and stress-candy-eating made my weight balloon to a non-pregnancy high.
I was actually feeling okay about it, being accepting of my body the way it was. I was still exercising and I still felt strong, but as time passed, that feeling of acceptance went away. My blood pressure and cholesterol were, for the first time in my life, outside of the healthy range. So now it was a health issue.
I went to my doctor, and after she diagnosed me with depression, she gave me a referral to a nutritionist. The nutritionist I started seeing was very supportive of my goal of becoming healthier, not just losing weight. My hope was that weight loss would be a side effect.
But getting older means losing weight is harder, so while I successfully incorporated more fiber and strength training into my life, my weight remained the same. That’s when she told me that she thought I’d be a good candidate for the new class of weight loss drugs called GLP-1 agonists.
These injectable drugs were created to treat diabetes, but it was found that patients also lost weight on them.
So some doctors have been prescribing them to patients for weight loss. I won’t go into the debate about if these drugs should be used for weight loss or the issues with cost and insurance, but I do want to talk about what it’s been like for me.
What I like about the drug I’m taking (Mounjaro) is that it helps me not obsess over food. Normally, food is always in the background of my mind. A craving would take hold and not let go until I either gave in to that or something else. And if it was something else, that usually didn’t satisfy me anyway. I used to be a smoker, and I am very familiar with the pull of nicotine addiction. This was worse. Just one more bite won’t hurt. Just a taste. Until I gained 40 pounds in a year.
So now I don’t really think about food unless I’m hungry. The cravings are few and far between, and they just don’t dig their claws into me the way they used to. I eat until I am satisfied, and no more. I don’t eat and eat just because something tastes good. And because of this, I’m able to make healthier choices when I do eat. And that is the habit I am trying to form for when I eventually go off of this medication.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. The drug can have side effects. I’m lucky that I haven’t had the nausea that many experience, but I did have a painful bout of constipation. Often I have to make myself eat, particularly on the days immediately following the injection (it’s taken once a week.) Is this what it’s like for people who say they “forgot to eat”? I can promise that’s never happened in my life before this.
So far, I’ve been losing about a pound a week on average, which I feel is a healthy rate of loss. I went on vacation and didn’t gain an ounce, which is mind-blowing. Do I worry about the weight coming back? Of course, I do. I’m not a fool. But I am hopeful that I can use the time on the medication to set up healthy habits for the rest of my life, which is the key, really.